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Health Care Facilities Face Two Challenges From Competition




January 11, 2013 - Facilities Management

Today’s tip from Building Operating Management: Health care facilities face two key challenges from competition.

As little as 10 years ago, the idea was that a hospital presided over its geographic area like a shepherd over its local flock. Today, the move to outpatient services opens up the geographic playing field to nearby competitors who can fairly easily open ambulatory sites in a hospital's historic market. The move towards ambulatory services also gives other factors, like aesthetics, greater weight. "You have many more patients showing up at your front door who aren't deathly sick and just want you to make them better," says Brian Crimmins, vice president, facilities planning and development at Crozer-Keystone Health System in Pennsylvania. "They're coming in and they're leaving. And they want it to be a pleasant experience." Crozer-Keystone is the dominant health care provider in Delaware County, just to the west of Philadelphia.

This all comes together to give potential patients — or health care consumers, as they're increasingly being thought of — what they want: choice, convenience and a competitive market that is hustling for their business. This gives health systems a major challenge, as they now have to constantly struggle to maintain market share.

At Crozer-Keystone, there's a two-pronged approach from the facilities side aimed at capturing that market share. The first is increasing the number of private rooms. As the care model has shifted to outpatient care, fewer in-patient beds are needed to serve the population in hospitals. While that at first seems like a bad trend, there is actually a silver lining: It allows Crimmins' team to retrofit the hospitals towards a goal of all private rooms. From the facilities perspective, the square footage isn't changing, so there is no efficiency gained, Crimmins says, but it improves patient satisfaction, creates lower densities on the unit and is helpful for infection control.

The other avenue of attack — setting up the ambulatory sites — is where the bigger challenge lies for Crimmins' team. The thrust has been to take the services that would have been borne out in the hospitals and put them out into the community in medical office buildings and, in some instances, in business occupancy buildings, Crimmins says.

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.

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